The Shivers is a one-of-a-kind pop-up tabletop mystery adventure, due to be released soon on Kickstarter. In the game, players will take on the role of one of the Shivers family as they explore a spooky haunted house called Mirador Manor. They’ll look for clues, work together to solve puzzles, confront monsters, and work through their greatest fears. The entire game is constructed with a novel modular system that features paper-crafted pop-up rooms which magnetically lock together to form the tabletop gamespace.
Thank you so much for taking the time to speak to us, especially as you have just finished unveiling your game at PAX unplugged for three days in Philadelphia. How was the show?
Despite our very humble 3x3’ table, we had a ton of traffic and interest. Not only from game fans but also industry professionals and influencers. People genuinely fell in love with our small demo. Some were lucky enough to play it when we were hosted in the Kickstarter booth. Our most frequent comment was “I’ve never seen anything like this!”
I’ve certainly never seen any pop-up games this intricate before either, is it unique to the mystery genre?
Definitely, and we’re even thinking beyond the mystery genre. Pop-ups do lend themselves to a great spooky visual style that matches the genre. We’ve seen a few other instances where pop-ups are used, but they’re not core to the gameplay experience. Mostly they’re used as ornamentation around an existing game board. The Shivers is truly a pop-up that you can play.
What made you see an opportunity in the game industry to bring something unique to the market?
I’ve actually spent over 20 years doing exactly that. I’ve built a long career as a veteran in California’s ultra-innovative design culture, working in some of the biggest agencies and for the world’s leading brands. I started my own design company 10 years ago, where clients hire us specifically to look at their industry and help them find ways to stand out through innovative and well-designed products. We just took that same insight and applied it to the tabletop game world.
So that is your business background, what is you board gaming background?
I grew up in the early ‘80s, watching my brother and his friends play D&D. I really loved that feeling of magic and mystery, but understood none of the rules. I gravitated more to early computer games like Zork, King’s Quest, and later games like the Monkey Island series and Myst. I loved games that incorporated puzzle solving, clue-finding, rich visuals, immersive environments, great storytelling, and simple gameplay. The Shivers is a lot like those games but in an analog way.
Sounds like that is the backbone of The Shivers! What was the inspiration behind it?
I actually bought Betrayal at House on the Hill to try to play with my family, but the rules were far too complicated for me and my young family. So we just used the tile pieces to make our own adventures on the fly. Later, I got inspired to make each tile larger and use pop-ups to increase the three-dimensionality and visual interest.
Who have you partnered with to create this awesome looking mystery game?
There is the illustrator, William Tiller. I became aware of Bill’s work when playing the Monkey Island series. He’s a California-based illustrator of both digital and print media, with many published works to his name. There is also our pop-up engineer, Robert Sabuda, acclaimed pop-up children’s book author and considered one of the leading paper engineers in the world. Both are really excited to bring The Shivers to reality.
Robert Sabulda’s books do look incredible, particularly his Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland! Back to the game though, I assume there will be a finite number of episodes and rooms, how many are you planning?
We’re planning on 7-8 rooms and eight stories in the core game. Once players have played an episode, they will want to play through the next one. There will be an expansion also available at time of launch and if we’re successful, we’ll constantly be making new expansions and episodes to play. We can’t wait to see the world of The Shivers expand!
Neither can I! So is this a game for children?
Based on how adults reacted to our pop-up game, I’d say it’s universally appealing. The recommended age ranges are seven & up, with the Storyteller needing to be at least 14 due to the complexity of that role. Setup takes less than 5 minutes per episode and each game plays in about 30-60 minutes. The rules are intentionally very streamlined and easy to understand. Players will discover the details of their adventure as they go - much like an escape room but on a very small scale. We’ve had amazing play tests with children younger than 7, and grandparents up to 77. Even hard-core D&D gamers in their 20’s really love this game.
Thanks again for your time. I will look forward to following how The Shivers develops on Instagram and seeing it on Kickstarter. I can’t wait! When are you planning on launching it?